Imagine interviewing for your dream job. Imagine giving a presentation to C-level executives. Imagine a dinner meeting with clients to renew a huge contract. Now think about your personal appearance.
How important are first impressions? It takes more than just a strong handshake and confident “hello” to get someone’s attention. What you wear is equally important to your initial impression and being taken seriously. I want you to “image”ine the possibilities!
It is no myth that the power of non-verbal communication speaks louder than the spoken word. It may be your resume that gets you that interview but it is your appearance and confidence that you exude that will get you the job.
But what are some of the rules of the game? Let’s look at some of the primary questions women have:
1. What do I wear on my interview? This question will vary depending on the industry. For any interview, make sure you do your homework first to determine the traditional dress code. Feel free to ask your contact person in HR what is appropriate to wear.
Clothing: I recommend a tailored grey or navy suit – pant or skirt. Make sure the skirt falls no more than 1 inch above the knee. Feel free to add a pop-of-color to your otherwise conservative outfit by having a colorful shell underneath.
Accessories: Keep them simple. A 16” – 18” chain with studs or small hoops is all you need. Don’t wear jewelry you can hear while you walk! So distracting! Pearls are still acceptable but too long a strand can make you look older than your years, be careful! Select a handbag that is more structured versus slouchy.
Non-Profit / Academia
Clothing: While traditionally the everyday look is more casual than corporate, a great rule of thumb is to dress up more than dress down for an interview. Consider wearing a pencil skirt with a structured jacket or a great dress that doesn’t have a bold pattern or show too much cleavage! Your shoes, and yes they will be viewed, should also be conservative (no more than a 2 inch heel).
Accessories: If you opted to go with a bold, single color dress, you do not need a lot of jewelry. The color is an accessory itself!
Clothing: If the Design firm is more corporate – stick to grey, navy or taupe pants, skirts and jackets, closed-toe shoes. To give a conservative look a pop of your own style, add a small broach or pin to the lapel of your jacket. For Design Agencies – You have a bit more creative freedom here – stay conservative with your pants, skirt, jacket, dress but have some fun with a colorful scarf, statement necklace, usually fun open-toed shoes are appropriate – NO flip-flops! Once you land the job – you will be able to jazz up your outfit, until then, better to be safe than sorry!
2. Make-Up for an interview or everyday office: Unless you are working for L’Oreal, keep your make-up subtle. Save the smoky-eye and bright lips for the evening. A more natural, clean look exudes more confidence.
3. What is business Casual?
There can be many interpretations of this. Say “see you later” to your conservative suit and say “hello” to your more comfortable stylish work wear. I love pants with fitted jackets and heels or a fun sweater, colorful scarf and denim skirt. Pair that with knee-length boots and you are ready to face the day looking stylish and confident.
Business Casual Don’ts
Don’t wear ripped jeans or sweat pants. Never appropriate.
Don’t wear shirts or dresses that are too tight or show any cleavage. Save that for going out at night.
Don’t wear skirts that are too short. If you have to constantly pull it down while you are sitting, then it is too short.
Don’t cake on the make-up. See above!
4. Perfume – To scent or not to scent?
If you must wear perfume, make it a very light scent!!! You don’t know how the scent will affect the interviewer, your prospect or colleague. A strong scent can distract your audience from listening to you because they are too busy sniffling and sneezing!
5. Professional appearance = Respect for your corporate brand
In most cases, a company hired you because they were impressed by your knowledge and your appearance. You showed the company that you respected their time by dressing professionally and providing knowledgeable answers to their questions. That respect should not wane once you are hired. Continue to honor yourself and the company’s brand image by wearing clothes that are pressed and unstained. Tasteful not the “I just rolled out of bed look.” Managers notice employees who go the extra mile. They are investing in you; take a moment to give back.
“Image”ine yourself as a confident professional! Believing in you is the first step, dressing like a strong confident woman is a very close second…